“PHOENIX RISING FROM THE ASHES”
Gindling Hilltop Camp
November 13, 2018
You may have already learned that our beloved Gindling Hilltop Camp has succumbed to the ravages of the Woolsey fire. Apparently, the placard honoring Rabbi Alfred Wolf, a Holocaust Survivor and founder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple and the camps, did not burn.
In a TV interview on Monday, Rabbi Wolf’s grandson told us that the metal Menorah is standing strong and that the placard that is made of wood was the only thing that didn’t burn, so we can assume that a Sacred line in the sand was drawn. Like the Phoenix rising out of the ashes, our camp will rise again.
When the large dining hall structure burned several years ago, the only part that didn’t burn was the closet housing all of our belongings. I recall how astonished Timothy, David Green and I were when we saw that. We knew that our Sacred items had created the fire wall. Many of us vividly recall holding our community gatherings in the large tents for 4 years while the main dining hall was rebuilt.
Obviously, our hearts are additionally heavy resulting from this devastating news on top of the tragic news of the shooting in the Borderline Club. That news was eclipsed by the fires that erupted the following day. Our condolences to all who have lost their lives due to either of these horrific events. Over 40 lives have been lost at this point due to the fires and they are anticipating that this number will grow.
We hope that you are okay and that your homes have been spared. As you recall, one of our brothers, Stephen Reynolds, lost his home in the fire that swept through the Tujunga canyon last year.
Michael and I had to evacuate our homes on Friday. Rob hunkered down in Malibu and was safe. This is the worst conflagration in the history of California and those fires burning up and down the state are still out of control and rampaging in areas.
Once we received the news about Hilltop early yesterday morning, Michael, Rob and I knew that we needed to reflect on the retreat. It was tempting to allow our minds to rush to solution in contemplation of what to do about the event; and yet we also felt that it was best to allow the smoke to settle some allowing Spirit to work through us. In other words, not try to force something into place, but rather to let go and see what is meant to be.
Today we considered our options and this morning decided that it’s important to keep it simple in the midst of the complexities many are facing. Decisions need to be made so that people can reorient their plans. Sometimes the decisions needing to be made are difficult ones and this is one of them. Instead of scrambling to try to find another venue, we have decided to postpone the retreat to next Spring.
We had done some research and after surveying a few potential sites we came to the conclusion that we were trying to fill a hole rather than allowing ourselves to just feel the hole. For now, we will be present to the loss of our camp and allow our hearts to surrender into that reality and feel the depth of this loss.
Over the years we’ve been through just about every kind of condition on retreat including a big earthquake, hurricane force winds, hail, torrential rain and of course several fires. And then there are all of the other conditions that we’ve endured. We’ll weather this one as well.
If you have registered for the retreat, we will be in contact with you this week to work out the refunds.
I hope that you’re all okay. Let us know.
Sending you love and light,
Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
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Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower of the Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 32 years. He is a gifted therapist and master facilitator for the experiential journey that unfolds during his counseling sessions and workshops. Dr. J is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist who has the sensibilities of a wisdom teacher. He provides a safe space for freedom of expression in accessing one’s pain while fostering transformation, personal expansion and spiritual growth. Click here to visit www.DrStephenJohnson.com
Dr. Johnson is author of "THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR," an amazing how-to book for men who want to become better men. The groundbreaking book’s forward written by Dr. J’s friend, fellow USC football fan and longtime MCLA member Levar Burton.